20 foreigners killed in Dhaka cafe attack: army

20 foreigners killed in Dhaka cafe attack: army

DHAKA: Armed militants killed 20 civilians after taking them hostage in a Bangladesh cafe overnight and many of the victims were hacked to death, an army spokesman said on Saturday

“We’ve recovered 20 bodies. Most them had been brutally hacked to death with sharp weapons,” Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury told reporters in Dhaka, without giving the nationality of the victims.

The army concluded an operation to clear the cafe on Saturday, rescuing 13 people including one Japanese and two Sri Lankans.

Six gunmen were killed during the police operation and one was captured, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a TV broadcast.

Source (Dawn News)

Why Mullahs Are Mere Pawns In Pakistan’s Persecution of Ahmadis

Why Mullahs Are Mere Pawns In Pakistan’s Persecution of Ahmadis

Two Ahmadis were gunned down in Karachi recently. On June 20, a homeopathic doctor named Abdul Khaliq fell to unknown assailants in Malir district. This followed the brazen drive-by shooting of Dawood Ahmad in Gulshan-e-Iqbal town less than a month earlier.

Neither killings registered on the 24/7 news cycle in Pakistan, which did not surprise one bit. Talking about Ahmadis on national television can get youbanned, if not slapped with a fatwa from some apoplectic mullah, as actor-turned-Ramadan televangelist Hamza Abbasi found out the hard way recently.

[T]he Ahmadis of Pakistan were Jews in their own Nazi Germany.

Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community, of which many have fled abroad, has been under siege for over half a century. To say they keep paying the price for their beliefs, however controversial, would be an understatement. Even before 1974, when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto officially stripped the Ahmadis of their right to call themselves Muslims, these followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad were actively persecuted by the religious-right backed by old-money conservatives from west Punjab.

Why? Rumor has it wealthy Punjabis who had angel-invested in the Muslim League were wary of a Pakistan where the enterprising Ahmadis, like the highly educated Muhajirs of Karachi, could overtake them in clout, profit and influence, and therefore planned a preemptive strike. Mere conjecture of course, but where there’s smoke…

Earlier, in 1953, full scale rioting broke out in Lahore (as it would again throughout Pakistan in 1974) against the Ahmadiyya sparked by the religious coalition “Majlis-i-Amal,” after the state dismissed its ultimatum to declare all Ahmadis non-Muslims and summarily remove every one–including storied foreign minister Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan–from public office. It took the army and a three-month long martial law to restore order in Punjab.

Still, the Pakistan of 1953–insofar as how it repelled right-wing forces overreaching their purview–was possibly the only fleeting representation of what founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah intended his creation to be. Three years later, with a new constitution, Pakistan would cast away all pretensions of secularity and officially become an “Islamic Republic.”

Later, in 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq cued the funeral march for “freedom to profess religion” in Pakistan by enacting Ordinance XX. This legislation not only tore to shreds Article 20 of the Constitution protecting every citizen’s right to worship without impediments, it also sharply narrowed the lens with which the state would thenceforth view the Ahmadis.

Zia had them declared impostors of the Muslim faith and barred them from using any religious vernacular that overlapped with mainstream Sunnis or Shias. From that point on, and for all practical purposes, the Ahmadis of Pakistan were Jews in their own Nazi Germany. To this day, any Pakistani applying for a passport or national identity card must affirm Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

Pakistan is emotionally a theocracy.

But hold on. This is 2016 and defending the Ahmadiyya community is now en vogue, at least in print. So why has nothing changed? Furlongs of inked paper are wasted every month by Pakistan’s intellectual capital harping on the travesty that is the state’s treatment of Ahmadis. Yet what is stopping them, ordinary Pakistanis or indeed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from remedying the injustice?

Why didn’t “enlightened moderates” like Benazir Bhutto or Gen. Pervez Musharraf buck the trend? Why does this present parliament not strike off the legal abominations instituted by Bhutto senior and Zia from the constitution? The answer is simple, yet deceptive. Liberals would have you believe that Pakistan’s problem with Ahmadis is steered by right-wing lunatics with no buy-in from the lay citizen. Utter hogwash.

Here’s my challenge to them: If tomorrow the state decided to hold a nationwide referendum on the Ahmadi Muslim/non-Muslim question as the baseline for constitutional review, no more than 10% of Pakistanis (and I’m being generous here) would support reversing the status quo. Why? Because Pakistan is emotionally a theocracy. What else would the Two-Nation Theory make it?

Progressives prone to psychoanalyzing Jinnah from beyond the grave are convinced the maltreatment meted out to Ahmadis is symptomatic of straying from his vision of Pakistan. That, in turn, prevented the country from separating mosque and state. Ultimately, the Pakistan that, “Ought to be” never existed. It had no roots in local politics or society. Jinnah himself was a transplant from Gujarat to Karachi: a vibrant cosmopolis that in his lifetime invited inclusivity as opposed to the tribalism prevalent across Muslim-majority provinces.

Consequently, Jinnah may have misread Pakistan and Pakistanis. Especially after the ravages of Partition served to intensify the orthodoxy of Islam among the millions who had migrated in utter ruin with just the clothes on their backs, or lost loved ones to internecine strife. For these hapless souls, the political slogan “Pakistan ka matlab kya? La Illaha Illallah” (What does Pakistan mean? There is no God, but God) took on a very literal meaning and turned Pakistan into the new citadel of Islam worthy of the blood shed.

Moreover, Jinnah reportedly never spoke of the “ideology of Pakistan.” How could he? Jinnah sahib was rather tepid of faith. He understood and perfectly argued the legal case for Allama Iqbal’s Two-Nation Theory, but could never connect with its heart: the blind obedience to a social order based on religion. It never crossed his mind that Pakistan, a mishmash of mutually distrustful ethnicities, would over time dive deeper into Islamic nationalism for survival, all the more when coupled with a perpetual persecution complex vis-à-vis India.

If those electing public officials to government are not “rational,” the state by default cannot be rational. 

“But how can the state decide who is a Muslim and who isn’t?”, protest Pakistan’s intellectuals. The state, they argue, is meant to be a “rational actor”; concerned only with upholding the constitution–its compact with the people–through impartial institutions and without discriminating on color, creed or religion. If only it were so simple.

The state is also not Stonehenge, a stoic physical monolith. It is merely the focal point for the emotions of its constituents. If those electing public officials to government are not “rational,” the state by default cannot be rational. Remember Nazi Germany? Hitler came to power through the ballot, not a putsch and a highly civilized people subsequently reveled in systematically exterminating the Jews.

In Pakistan’s case, I am of the firm belief (misguided though it may be), that by enacting anti-Ahmadi legislation to appease the religious right-led crusade against that community, the state may in reality have saved them from mass lynchings because there was no backpedaling from that level of hatred. There still isn’t, otherwise parliament would have annulled Ordinance XX and the Second Amendment ages ago.

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: The Huffington Post
By S.Mubashir Noor | July 1, 2016

UK: ‘Meet a Muslim Family’ set up post-vote

UK: ‘Meet a Muslim Family’ set up post-vote

London’s oldest Ahmadiyya mosque has launched a campaign to tackle “increasing social tensions” after last week’s EU referendum result.

The Meet a Muslim Family initiative at Fazl Mosque sees non-Muslims invited to break fast in the homes of worshippers during the last few days of Ramadan.

BBC Asian Network’s Anisa Kadri reports. [Video]

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: BBC News
By Anisa Kadri | June 30, 2016

USA: Muslim youth retreat preaches ‘love for all’

USA: Muslim youth retreat preaches ‘love for all’

CLIFTON — Clifton mosque members practiced “love for all, hatred for none” during their May retreat to strengthen their faith.

Five young men of Clifton’s Baitul Wahid mosque’s congregation of 350 attended a long weekend retreat in Yosemite National Park in California late last month. The Clifton mosque is one of three mosques in the state affiliated with the Ahmadi sect of Muslims, currently headed by their elected spiritual leader, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the great grandson of the sect’s founder.

Five young men from Clifton’s Baitul Wahid mosque congregation attended a retreat to strengthen their faith recently. The Ahmadi Muslims practiced ‘love for all, hatred for none’ at the retreat.
The sect, founded in 1889, has “tens of millions” of members in more than 200 countries, according to the website Al Islam, the official website of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The group has faced persecution and violence in countries such as Pakistan, where they are considered “non-Muslim” due to a 1974 Pakistani constitutional amendment, according to several international news sources.

Ahmadi Muslims believe their promised savior has already returned in the form of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who founded the Ahmadi sect of Muslims and lived in a small village in Punjab, India until his death in 1908. During his time, the elder Ahmad promoted “universal brotherhood,” “interfaith dialogue” and claimed to be the latter day reformer of Islam.

Since the motto was first coined in 2008, Ahmadi Muslims have officially adopted the phrase “love for all, hatred for none.”

Anwar Muhammad, northern New Jersey youth leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association and Clifton mosque congregant, said the goal of the retreat, or “ijtema” in Urdu and Arabic, is to help build community and strong foundations of faith in young Muslim men.

“The real concept was to make sure that Ahmadiyya Muslim youth stay attached to the community and also know what their true Muslim identity is,” he added.

The retreat hosted 570 boys and men ages 15 to 40 this year, but he added gatherings can host up to 1,200 faithful. Retreats have been held annually for nearly 50 years since the founding of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association in the United States in 1939.

Muhammad said retreats are also held for young Muslim women, in addition to retreats for older members of the congregation.

Muhammad said the Clifton mosque on Crooks Avenue not only serves congregants from the city, but all across northern New Jersey and parts of New York. He counted congregants who commute from Parsippany, Randolph and Rockaway for weekly prayer services. Ahmadi mosques in New Jersey are also located in Willingboro and Old Bridge.

The retreat served to bond the young Muslim community together, while creating a strong moral foundation, said Muhammad.

Kick-off activities included a dual flag-raising of the American and the black and white Ahmadiyya Muslim Community flag in the presence of all attendees.

“We want to make sure, especially the young kids, they really identify themselves as loyal, true Americans,” said Muhammad. “The media,… politics and everything aside, we want to make sure our kids growing up in America are true Americans and love of the land is a part of our faith.”

Participants played volleyball, basketball and cricket, when not hiking on Yosemite’s forested grounds. They also took part in academic and athletic competitions, and attended talks at an amphitheater.

“Other than hikes and other park activities, we had prayer — five daily prayers— and we also had dinner, lunch and breakfast so everyone came together, sitting with each other and getting to know each other from different parts of the country.”

The activities serve as a spring board for conversation throughout the year through email and social media. The group talks online “a lot” following retreats, he said.

The highlight of the second part of the trip was hiking Half Dome, Yosemite’s granite peak which sits at an elevation of over 8,000 feet, said Muhammad. Only 10 of the 500-some participants had the opportunity to scale its face, but Cloud’s Rest and Upper Yosemite Falls were other options, which saw those on the retreat hiking alongside other visitors to the park on a weekend hike.

“If you look from 5,000 feet down to the valley, you feel so close to the Creator,” he said of his personal experience on the trip.

When back home in Clifton, Baitul Wahid mosque organizes monthly family get-togethers, topic discussions, blood drives, tree plantings and volunteer time at soup kitchens, said Muhammad.

“We believe in winning hearts through true love, not through hatred or extremism, because in Islam, we believe there is no place for extremism,” said Muhammad.

Each year, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community hosts a National Peace Symposium in the United Kingdom and in 2014 hosted the Conference of World Religions, which featured religious leaders from around the world.

“You cannot go argue or fight with anyone over religion. We believe in tolerance… That’s ‘love for all, hatred for none.'”

Email: katz@northjersey.com

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: NorthJersey.com
By Maggie Katz | July 1, 2016

USA: More than 300 join local Muslim community in Milpitas to break annual fast

USA: More than 300 join local Muslim community in Milpitas to break annual fast

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community welcomed more than 300 members of the community to its annual iftar “breaking of the fast” on Saturday, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a spiritual month, where Muslims worldwide fast from before dawn to sunset and refrain from eating, drinking and bad habits.

Mayor Jose Esteves, Vice Mayor Carmen Montano, Consul General of India Vankatesan Ashok and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo were among those who joined people of various faiths in the breaking of the fast at sunset at the Baitul Baseer Mosque, 926 Evans Road.

The focus of the event, according to co-organizer Idrees Munir, is to focus on the True Islam campaign, which attempts to clear up misunderstandings about the faith as well as showcase the fundamental, peaceful nature of Islam and its key teachings.

Munir stressed this kind of understanding is especially important now with recent incidents that have taken place in the United States and around the globe including the Orlando, Fla. night club shooting on June 12, where a person purporting to be Muslim killed 49 people and injured 53 others. He added such events have led to an increase in divisive, hateful rhetoric and retaliatory actions against Muslims and those perceived to be of the Muslim faith.

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: San Jose Murcury News
By Milpitas Post | June 30, 2016

 

USA: Iftar Dinner promotes solidarity and tolerance in our community

USA: Iftar Dinner promotes solidarity and tolerance in our community

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Houston held their annual Iftar Dinner to encourage the power of solidarity and tolerance amongst all people. The event, held at Madjid Baitus Samee, invited out members not only of the Muslim community, but also those of different faiths and backgrounds.

Representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Nasir Malik, shares the Iftar Dinner is an opportunity for the Muslim community to share with others an important tradition in their faith.

“All around the world, Muslims are celebrating the month of Ramadan, and each year we hold at our mosque a fasting. We invite our guests to join us and enjoy a dinner with us and be thankful to God for all the things he has left us.”

In attendance were notable community leaders including Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman’s Office, members of the FBI, and representatives from the offices of Senator John Cornyn and U. S. Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee. Leaders of other religions were present as well including a Jewish rabbi and a Baptist pastor who both shared the importance of fasting in their respective faiths.

“We bring people from all races and communities together, all walks of life,” says Malik. “We have Republicans and Democrats but when you come to the mosque you’re just a human.”

More than 50 outside guests and 150 Muslim community members came together to enjoy a great dinner and share valued ideals on accepting others whose beliefs vary from their own. The group took part in a moment of silence and prayed for the victims of the Orlando nightclub tragedy. Sheriff Hickman talked about solidarity in the community and the importance of keeping our areas safe. Malik stresses how this dinner helps lead to a better understanding of the many groups and faiths that we all experience each day.

“That way we can have a peaceful world, so we can have a harmony and live with each other and have an understanding of those values among our citizens, friends and neighbors.”

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will host their annual blood drive on September 11 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Masjid Baitus Samee. This event, done in remembrance of the horrific terror attacks held on that day in 2001, will highlight various organizations who will speak to guests and provide information. Since hosting the blood drive, more than 50,000 pints of blood have been donated over the past five years.

iRabwah| News Watch |
Source/Credit: Cypress Creek Mirror
By Taelor Smith | June 30, 2016

UK: Keighley Ahmadiyya Muslim group intervenes to help survivors of Ecuador earthquake

UK: Keighley Ahmadiyya Muslim group intervenes to help survivors of Ecuador earthquake

A KEIGHLEY-based Muslim group has helped to co-ordinate relief efforts to offer life-saving relief to districts in Ecuador stricken by a major earthquake.

Coastal regions of the country were devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April, which left 600 dead and 7,000 injured.

Dr Aziz Hafiz, president of Keighley’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and director for disaster relief of the Humanity First organisation, said: “Although there hasn’t been much in the press about the quake, more than 80,000 people have been displaced and the need for shelter remains.

“While debriefing our team on their return, I was struck by the level of resilience shown by the local people despite the worst earthquake to hit Ecuador in more than a decade.”

Mr Hafiz was involved with work to co-ordinate the mission to help survivors in the aftermath of the disaster.

He has been dealing with the United Nations and the Government of Ecuador to dispatch Humanity First workers to the hardest-hit province of Manabi.

There they helped people with water purification equipment, allowing some 2,750 people to receive clean water and 1,250 people to get emergency food assistance.

A total of 300 water survival boxes, which contain essential items, including a water filter for a homeless family, were sent to the people in most need of assistance.

Mr Hafiz added: “There can be huge amounts of logistical and bureaucratic issues to deal with in a disaster, especially around the issue of arranging international cargo, flights and customs in the affected country.”

iRabwah| News Watch |
Source/Credit: KeighleyNews
By Miran Rahman | June 30, 2016